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Is Nerlynx (neratinib) a chemo drug?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on Aug 11, 2023.

Official answer


No. Nerlynx (neratinib) is not a chemo drug it is a type of targeted treatment that works by irreversibly binding to and inhibiting specific receptors on the surface of cancer cells called HER2, HER4, and EGFR receptors, which receive signals that tell cancer to grow and spread.

Unlike chemotherapy which tends to kill all rapidly dividing cells, Nerlynx only targets those cells with those specific receptors, which are found in abnormally large quantities on Her2 positive breast cancer cells. Nerlynx binds to these receptors which inhibits their activity, their ability to direct the activity of other cells, and tumor growth. Neratinib belongs to a category of medications called tyrosine kinase inhibitors and may also be called an irreversible pan-HER inhibitor.

Even though Nerlynx is a targeted treatment, it is different to other targeted treatments such as Herceptin (generic name: trastuzumab), Kadcyla (generic name: ado-trastuzumab emtansine), or Perjeta (generic name: pertuzumab) which are immune targeted treatments. Immune targeted treatments work like antibodies made by our immune systems. Nerlynx is not an antibody.

Nerlynx may be used for the treatment of early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer after treatment with trastuzumab has already been given. It may also be used in combination with the chemotherapy medicine capecitabine (Xeloda) for adults with advanced or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer who have already received two or more prior anti-HER2 based regimens.


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